Romanian Grace

The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon. -- St. Cyril of Jerusalem

17 November, 2006

and I wonder why I'm tired

Okay, I have been here for twelve weeks and have gone to METRO, the big Sam's-type store here numerous times to buy groceries and other essentials (like a snowboard last week). But I had never had the courage to buy meat there and was, consequently, mostly vegetarian when I would prepare food for myself. There is nothing wrong with their meat, it's just that I could never be sure what it was I was getting. Sure, it looked enough like pork chops, or chicken, but then it would be right next to something unidentifiable, and I would begin to question. I would walk away from the meat section and look for the packaged yoghurt.

All of this changed on my last visit. They had just revamped their meat section, I got excited, and was thankful I was pushing a cart because the floor was slick and I nearly ate it right there in front of the butcher. I caught myself, looked around to see if anyone saw, and found myself staring right at a pig butt. They had pigs half frozen hanging right there, out in the open. I touched one and it was firm, a little squishy. I wanted to start punching it and singing the Rocky theme song. I continued my circuit of the meat room instead. I was amazed to find ground beef and bought a big pack of it. It looked pretty good, nice and red, without much fat. So I tossed it in the cart, grabbed sime chicken breasts, and moved on to the yoghurt.

Now, that was about a week ago, and I decided to thaw the meat today and noticed what the package said. The label read "carne de manzat." I have no idea, actually, what manzat is, but it is not the word I know for cow. I left my apartment with it and asked my neighbor, Silvia, who was on the stairs at the time, what it was. She had some difficulty explaining it, but soon someone else walked by and they had a discussion about what it is. I simply asked, "Is it COW?" "No, no. Not cow...." The man answered. He assured me it was not cow (cow must have been the only English word he knew, and he knew that was not what I had in my hand). I said, "Sheep?" Silvia said, "No." Goat? No. I was running out of options. Silvia said, "I think it's cow. Good bye."

Oh. That was comforting. I took it over to Darin's place, and he typed the word into his computer dictionary, and we think we got an answer.

It seems as though I had picked up horse meat. I could not believe it. I definitely could not eat it. Darin assured me he had bought the same stuff a while back and that it tasted a lot like beef. We were not eating horse. Incredulous, I called my boss and asked him what it was. He told me it was ground beef, no question. I told him to ask the Romanian guy he was with just to be sure. Sure enough, cow. Supposedly young cow, but cow all the same. Maybe under 20 years old.

I was relieved, I guess. Opening a pack of meat, though, should not add so much stress to my life. I am a chicken and veggies man from here on out.


At 20/11/06 12:48, Blogger Dingle said...

Oh the joys of food buying in a foreign culture!!! What a great story. Hope your next trip is a little less eventful!


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